The ChessBard

Aaron worked in collaboration with Jody Miller to create the ChessBard which can be found at In short, the ChessBard inputs the algebraic notation for a chess game in .PGN format (digital file format for archived chess games) and the ChessBard outputs a poem. The poems are based on 12 source poems Aaron wrote, 6 poems for the white pieces, 6 poems for the black pieces: there is a 64 word poem for each colour’s pawns, knights, rooks, bishop, queen and king. When a piece lands on a square it triggers a word from the source poems and the translator compiles them together and outputs a poem. At the site, yoau can upload an old game and have it translated at the translator page as well as play a game against the ChessBard and have that game translated into poems as you play.

Irresponsible Mediums: The Chess Games of Marcel Duchamp is a forthcoming book from Bookthug in Fall 2017

In 1968, avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp and composer John Cage exhibited Reunion, a chess performance that took place in Toronto. Whenever Duchamp or Cage moved a piece, it generated a musical note until the game was transformed into a symphony.

Inspired by this performance, Irresponsible Mediums—poet and academic Aaron Tucker’s second full-length collection of poems—translates Duchamp’s chess games into poems using the ChessBard (an app co-created by Tucker and Jody Miller) and in the process, recreates Duchamp’s joyous approach to making art, while also generating startling computer-made poems that blend the analog and digital in strange and surprising combinations.


The ChessBard recently received Honourable Mention for the Turn On Literature Prize and will be showcased in Denmark, Norway and Romania as part of a larger exhibition of e-lit works.

The site was included in the 2015 Electronic Literature Festival’s Exhibition in Bergen Norway; there is a link to the hub here:

Exhibitions and performances of the ChessBard include: A blindfold performance against Jennifer Shahade at Ryerson University, Toronto Canada in September of 2015; and an exhibit and performance at the Phililalia Festival in Philadelphia U.S.A. in September 2016.


You can also find a few interviews with Aaron and Jody about the ChessBard:

Touch the Donkey & the ChessBard: rob mclennan

ChessBard Interview 1.0 – with Jody Miller and E. Martin Nolan

ChessBard Interview 2.0 – with Jody Miller and E. Martin Nolan

The site includes famous games and players as well as a communal Responses space. A detailed description of the proejct can be found at the About page and a lengthy poetic statement can be found at at the Poetics page. Keep checking back at the site for more content and larger projects.